3 technologies that will make globalization inevitable

Image courtesy of Slava Bowman via Unsplash

I see Globalization from a Star Trek perspective. If we’re going to host a branch of the United Federation of Planets, surely our individual planet must be united. It may take Star Trek like technology to make that happen, but maybe we’re closer than you think.

Here are 3 technologies I see ignoring national boundaries and driving globalization:

  1. Virtual/Augmented Reality
  2. Peer-to-peer commerce
  3. Autonomous transportation

I’ve always seen Globalization as a positive thing and a somewhat obvious eventuality. One of the things I enjoyed most about working in high tech was the constant interaction with global sales teams to solve customer problems. When you engage with companies all over the world, it becomes apparent that many of us are working towards the same things. And, there are good, intelligent, hardworking people all over the place.

With the rhetoric from 2016 and a short term trend towards isolationism and nationalism world wide slow moving government types are building sand walls to stop the incoming tide. In a way, I think the world is taking a step back and a deep breath before surging forward with fewer borders and more free trade.

In fact China is already moving toward globalization with their One Belt One Road initiative. They want to make it easier to buy and sell goods on the Eur-Asia continent. They want globalization and are working to be in the drivers seat.

So far I think we’ve done a surprisingly good job on the social aspect of globalization. Ex-pat communities are cropping up in countries around the world. Global businesses have increased the number of people who work with and know someone from another country. And sports, music and movies are no longer relegated to what’s available within driving distance. Kids in Cleveland Ohio are as likely to wear a Manchester United shirt as they are a Cavaliers jersey.

And technology will just help it grow from there.

Virtual/Augmented reality – From a park bench in New York’s central park you can enjoy a virtually free video conversation with a friend in Tokyo. They can show you the club they’re hanging out at, what they’re eating for breakfast or the rain outside their window. Experiences like this happen every day, more times that we can imagine. As augmented reality #AR and virtual reality #VR improve the experience will evolve to sharing that park bench with your friend, even though they are half way around the world.

Peer-to-peer commerce – Imagine sitting on your couch in Chicago, putting on your VR headset and strolling through a quaint little shop in Lisbon, Portugal. You converse with the store owner easily, languages translated on the fly. After finding a vase that goes perfectly with your new tablecloth you pay the shop keeper and leave the store. By the time you’ve made a cup of tea, the 3-D printer in your house has finished producing the vase, and you place it in the center if your table. Goods and services traded in a peer to peer exchange, no international banking, no regulatory oversight. A global flea market with each transaction effectively occurring under the table.

Autonomous transportation – Vehicles that manage themselves will make it faster, easier, and cheaper to move around the world. When vehicle congestion is reduced or eliminated and the energy needed for transportation is free, physical distance and geographic borders will blur. Travel will no longer be an exercise in patience for the average citizen and it will cost less than going out to dinner.

These are technologies that are happening now. Communication, commerce, and transportation are racing forward. The way that business and government worked in the last 250 years is irrelevant. Our goal shouldn’t be to leave anyone behind, but to bring everyone forward.

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